Book: Spider’s Bite: An Elemental Assassin
Author: Jennifer Estep
Publisher: Pocket Books
Rating: Four Stars
Wow is the first word that comes to mind at the end of Jennifer Estep’s latest novel. Devouring Spider’s Bite within a few hours is a testament to how good it was, how slick its main character Gin Blanco was, and how intriguing Estep’s elemental world was. True, it does remind one of similar “elemental” paranormal authors such as Rachel Caine’s Warden series and Anya Bast’s elemental witches, but Estep’s setting in the hamlet of Ashland run but a nearly corrupt government and elemental mob was really interesting and believable. You’ll want to guiltily immerse yourself.
While short on romance, it has enough to entice, and the tug of war between Gin and Donovan is heated, but with an undertone of more. They need to resolve their differences before they can get to that step. There is plenty of plot to make up for that lack and with a never-ending surfeit of fight scenes, readers will engage with the furtive pace. I was especially intrigued about Mab Monroe, the underworld leader of Ashland and a Fire elemental not to be trifled with. Estep has alluded that in Web of Lies, her next installment, there is likely to be a confrontation between Gin and Mab. Now that would be quite the conflagration.
Gin Blanco is stark and kick-butt dangerous and rarely does the reader see her soft underbelly, but that doesn’t make her less likeable. As an elemental assassin who can wield both Stone and Ice elements, Gin cannot afford to invest in emotions, but she has them nevertheless. Gin’s profession as an assassin is not overly hampered down with regret, just acceptance. Much the same way Larissa Ione’s character Sin in Ecstasy Unveiled is adept at her career choice. Estep has managed to infuse us with the knowledge of a Gin who is capable of feeling but is not mired down with a heavy emotional toll. It’s simply not in her character. The Spider rises above such petty emotions and calculates in the shadows. This is what Estep wants us to see and teases us inevitably with more.
Despite comparisons to other paranormal lore, Spider’s Bite stands out distinctly. I whipped through this book enjoying every minute of it. Estep’s words echo with a verve, a vivacity that some urban fantasy authors cannot duplicate, and readers won’t have to flip back and forth to figure out what happened because the plot is both grounded and thrilling.
A Fiendishly Bookish Review